Getting a massage is one of those health care treatments that has unfortunately been placed in the ‘luxury’ category. As a general rule, men only seek out the heaven-sent treatment when we’re irreparably sore from training, or between piña coladas on an island getaway.
But we're missing out on something truly great, and the ancient art of massage shouldn’t be reserved as a reactive measure to pain. It's actually one of the most successful preventative health measures available.
Jackie Messaike, owner of Jackie’s Sports Massage, recommends getting a massage at least once a month, more if there are underlying issues. And it’s not just injured athletes who benefit from regular massage therapy, according to Messaike. Everybody should be seeking out regular massage as part of their holistic health care routine, from athletes to sedentary office workers, even if they don’t feel soreness or pain.
As proof of point, when interviewing Jackie, she uncovered a hip imbalance that I had no idea existed. Thinking my body was in perfect working order, Jackie diagnosed the imbalance within the first 5 minutes of our consultation, and identified a host of referred pain as a result. Within another 15 minutes, she had corrected much of the tilt, and the feeling of relief was instantaneous.
Focusing on only the physical and performance benefits of massage would be selling the practice short.
Given her 20-plus years in the industry, Jackie has noticed a significant trend towards increased neck, hip and back ailments as a result of the introduction and growth of mobile devices, which in turn can lead to other health issues. Constantly looking at our screens has taken it’s toll on our necks, whilst sitting at a desk all day (yep, guilty) has caused tightened hips and back problems in the population.
In University of Miami School of Medicine study of 30 adults with chronic neck and lower back pain, those who started 30-minute long massage sessions twice a week for five weeks noted a significant reduction in sleep disturbances, meaning less awakening during the night or trouble falling asleep. Since the massage also reduced the pain, it’s possible that less aches means higher-quality shuteye, the researchers believe.
Further studies from across the globe have also highlighted the benefits of massage on mental health. After analyzing 17 studies, researchers from Taiwan concluded that massage therapy sessions significantly reduce their depressive symptoms. Similarly, after six weeks of Swedish massage therapy, patients with GAD experienced a significant reductions in scores on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, which measures feelings of worries, tension, fears, insomnia, dry mouth, and restlessness, according to a new study from Emory University discovered.
Heck... massages have even been proved to help you poop more efficiently. But I'll let you read up on that one yourself.
Take my advice, head to a practice and get a real massage ASAP. As I found out first hand, you won’t always know what’s going on inside your body, but a good quality masseuse will. Your body will thank you for the short-term pain.